John Martin22 March 2023
Where you grew up.
I grew up in Castleknock and went to the local national school, St. Brigid’s.
How you came to be at St. Conleth’s.
I started in St Conleth’s 40 years ago this year. My two older brothers and one of my sisters went to St. Conleth’s so I suppose it was inevitable that I would go there as well. They all loved it and brought home great tales of daily adventures and escapades. It sounded like great craic and so it was!
Favourite and/or least favourite subject in school.
My favourite subject was definitely History which was enlivened and at times somewhat controversially taught by Peter Gallagher. I liked it so much that I studied history in UCD and returned to St. Conleth’s for a brief stint to teach it whilst studying at King’s Inns.
Luckily, I always enjoyed school so I never really had a least favourite subject although Mick Manning might have thought I never excelled at maths!!
Fondest memory of St. Conleth’s.
I have so many fond memories of school that it is hard to confine it to just one of them. The school trips to Paris and Amsterdam were brilliant although the trip to Amsterdam was never repeated to the best of my knowledge. I’m not sure if it was the wisest place to bring a group of adolescent boys! Lunchtime strolls up Clyde Road to the Alcove and a sneaky smoke on the way back whilst keeping a look out for KD were part and parcel of the school day. Pat McGrath’s nature walks around Herbert Park were always an excuse for a bit of fun as too was creating a distraction from the books by tripping-up whoever carried the tray of milk into class at 10:15.
However, perhaps my fondest memories of all were the couple of years spent in Conleth’s when I returned as a teacher. My former teachers, now colleagues, were wonderful and the job satisfaction I got from teaching everything, mostly in the junior school, from French to history to table manners was immense. It definitely ranks as one of the most rewarding and fulfilling chapters of my career to date.
At what age did you know you wanted to work in your chosen field?
I wanted to be a barrister from as early as I can remember. My oldest brother is ten years older than I am and he started his law degree when I was eight years old and it caught my imagination from the get-go.
Tell us about your education/ career path.
I took what was described at home as the ‘scenic route’ through college. After an unsuccessful attempt at economics and statistics in UCD, I repeated 1st Arts and studied history and politics before opting for ‘pure’ History, then known as Group VIIIB, for my degree. I used read history for pleasure so I never felt I had to study or cram it in the conventional sense. After four wonderful years in Belfield, I then spent four years in King’s Inns which was then a parttime course and during this time, I taught in St. Conleth’s. I was called to the Bar in 1997 and started practice immediately. I practiced as a barrister on the Eastern Circuit for 25 years until I was appointed a Circuit Court Judge in July 2022.
Proudest achievement to date.
There’s been a few. Teaching and seeing children react to and engage in a subject is hugely satisfying. Having an interesting and rewarding career at the Bar and being appointed a Judge is another one. However, on a personal level, convincing my wife to marry me and having four wonderful children ranks as my proudest achievement to date.
Aspirations for the future.
I am really enjoying my new role as a Judge. As a Circuit Court judge, the workload can vary day to day, week to week and I love the variety and the fact that I am seeing the job from an entirely different perspective to the role of the barrister. I hope I am doing a good job and that I keep doing so in the future.
Advice for people wanting to work in your sector/ general advice.
Law is a wonderful area to work in with so many varied areas of practice and interest whether as a Solicitor or as a Barrister. Not having a law degree is no impediment to a legal career. Indeed, I would advise anyone considering a career in law to broaden their horizons and to do a more general primary degree rather than studying and practicing law from the age of 18. Life experience and people skills are vital to a career in law, whatever it is.
Who/what influenced you to pursue your chosen field.
The primary influence towards law came from home. Whilst neither of my parents were lawyers, one of my grandfathers and my uncles were/are solicitors and my older ‘role model’ brother was at the Bar. My father was a doctor and my mother was a dentist and they successfully managed to steer all five of us away from either of those careers.
In terms of becoming a Judge, my father in law is a retired Judge and for the past twenty years or so, I have watched and listened with keen interest to his take on the role.